Horseshoes have always been a traditional symbol associated with good luck . After the Scottish wedding ceremony, a page boy will present the bride with a silver coloured Wedding horseshoe as she leaves the church. They are traditionally given as a bridal gift or sometimes as wedding favors to commemorate the wedding day for the couple. Always a symbolic gift of Good Luck and fertility.
Lucky Omen Origins
There are a number of stories about the origins of the horseshoe's magical good luck.
Iron, the material that horseshoes are made of, is considered lucky as it is born from the marriage of rock and fire. In ancient times blacksmiths were thought of as alchemical masters of the elements and their products were believed to possess supernatural powers.
The modern association is more likely to be linked to the legend associated with the 10th century St. Dunstan who trapped the Devil and as a result extracted a promise never to enter the house of a Christian, which he would recognise by a horseshoe hung above the door.
There is also a myth about the devil asking a blacksmith to shoe his single hoof. When the blacksmith recognised his customer he carried out the job as painfully as possible until the devil roared for mercy. He was released on condition that he would never enter a place where a horseshoe was displayed
In addition, the basic shape of the horseshoe is said by pre-Christian traditions to be lucky. It's supernatural powers were associated with the shape of the crescent moon, which was thought to enhance fertility.
Because the horseshoe is "U "shaped, to retain the the good luck forever it is essential that the horseshoe is hung with the U shape up. The horseshoe should not be turned upside down or else all the good luck of the marriage may fall out.
The luckiest horseshoes came from the hind feet of a Gray Mare.
The horseshoe is considered very lucky and used to be hung in many homes to protect and attract good fortune for the family residing inside. As with many superstitions, there are contradictions to be found with the beliefs associated with the horseshoe. For instance, many believe that to hang it with the ends pointing upwards is good luck as it acts as a storage container of sorts for any good luck that happens to be floating by, whereas to hang it with the ends pointing down, is bad luck as all the good luck will fall out. Others believe that no matter which way you hang the horseshoe, good luck will come. According to this superstition, the ends-pointing-down display simply means that the good luck is able to flow out and surround the home. If the horseshoe is hung over a doorway, ends up will catch good luck and ends down will let the good luck spill over the door and stop evil from entering. Perhaps a combination of the two was used so that after a few days, when the horseshoe was filled with good luck, it would then need to be emptied so that residents could benefit from that luck and the process would be repeated until the end of time.
Horseshoes were also considered lucky because they were made by blacksmiths, which is also considered a very lucky trade. Because they worked with elemental fire and magical iron, they were thought to have special powers. It was believed that a blacksmith could heal the sick and if a couple was married by a blacksmith, their marriage would be a happy one. Their work with horses also brought them much power and prestige, not just because they made the lucky horseshoe but also because they were the keepers of the Horseman's Word (the basis for the movie, The Horse Whisperer.)
Horseshoes were originally made from iron, which may also account for the superstitions that are associated with this object. Iron was considered magical because it was able to withstand fire and was much stronger than other metals. The superstitions for iron are thought to originate in prehistoric times. It was used as a charm to ward off evil spirits.
Another aspect of the horseshoe that added to it's good luck was the fact that it was commonly held in place by seven iron nails. Since ancient times, the number seven was considered very important. Life was divided into seven ages; a rainbow has seven colors; astrology once held that seven planets made up the universe; there are seven deadly sins; a seventh child was thought to have special powers; there are seven days in a week; the moon changes from one phase to another every seven days; and a long-held belief states that the body goes through a radical change every seven years.
The association of the lucky horseshoe with the wedding ceremony is not too clear, there are ancient pre-Christian supernatural powers attributed to the horseshoe, for the Greeks it symbolised the crescent moon which was regarded as a symbol of fertility. The modern association is more likely to be linked to the legend associated with the 10th century St. Dunstan who trapped the Devil and as a result extracted a promise never to enter the house of a Christian, which he would recognise by a horseshoe hung above the door.
Hence the symbolism of the lucky horse shoe the Bride carries today is lost in the mists of time but is still a potent reminder of our culture and historic roots. Because the horseshoe is "U "shaped, to retain the the good luck forever it is essential that the horseshoe is hung by the ribbons which are attached to the shoulders. The horseshoe should not be turned upside down or else all the good luck of the marriage may fall out.
A related tradition says that it is very good luck to see a Grey horse en route to the Church, even more good luck if the Bride travelled in a carriage drawn by a grey horse, whilst
St. Dunstan was a learned metal working, painting and harp-playing man. He was born in the village of Baltonsborough (near Glastonbury) in 909. His parents, Herstan and Cynedritha, were of noble stock. His relative was St. Alphege, the Bald, Bishop of Winchester. St. Dunstan, in legend, once shod the Devil. He did this shodding so painfully that he made the Devil promise to never enter a dwelling where a horsehoe is displayed. Scottish legends tell of how a farmer shod a horse one night to find, the next day, a woman of the village (suspected of witchcraft) lying in agony with horseshoes nailed to her hands and feet. Saintly horsemen include: St. Hubert, St. Eustache, St. Martin, and dragon-slayer St. George.